The transformation to a global and borderless world is gaining momentum every year, touching every sector of society, and universities are no exception. Labels such as domestic and foreign lose their meaning, as universities throughout the world face increasingly fierce competition in their pursuit of the highest-quality education and research.
Since its foundation, Waseda University has been sensitive to changes in society while maintaining its core principles. We have fearlessly taken on a variety of challenges and tirelessly pursued innovation. Waseda has been built by our many predecessors and their bold endeavors embodying the founding spirit. However, as we face this era of massive change, I see it as the mission and duty of today’s Waseda to go further building on this tradition.
Our vision is to lead in global education and research. The motto Best Education, Best Research, Best Community, represents our collective aim to achieve world-class results in all our pursuits. I believe that now is the time to press forward with Waseda’s traditional enterprising spirit to address the many challenges the world now faces.
Of course, taking on global challenges requires thorough preparations, and we must build our strength before making a huge leap.
Waseda founder Shigenobu Okuma understood this, saying “If you want to fly high, you must study deeply,” and I felt this pointedly in the early days of my first term as president. The last four years have truly been about studying in preparation to fly. The first stage comprised three main goals:
1. Formulate a clear vision and plan for a huge leap
2. Build a systematic framework based on global standards
3. Solidify the financial foundations necessary to compete with other world-class institutions
The blueprint for this program is the Waseda Vision 150 strategic plan, which sets up goals and initiatives for the period up to Waseda’s 150th anniversary in 2032. In the education sphere, we have already implemented the Quarter system and established the Global Education Center and the Center for Higher Education Studies; in the research sphere we have established the URA (University Research Administrator) position at the Center for Research Strategy; in finance, we have stimulated higher levels of donations and yielded healthier financial results overall.
These efforts have been recognized and boosted by Waseda’s selection as a top class institution in the national Super Global University program. Amid an international trend of opening up universities to the world and emphasizing dynamic thinking, the program provides grants and other support for our goal to break into the top 100 of the world university rankings and produce 100,000 global leaders over a ten-year period.
The entire university worked as a team to achieve these results in the first stage of our undertaking. Now, looking ahead, I have set out the following policies for stage two, aiming for Waseda, the Best.
The main actors of a university are its students, and its value is judged by the quality of the students it cultivates and sends out into the world. Over the last four years, we listened to our students and determined the needs for educating the human resources for the coming age. We took pains to implement reforms from the student’s perspective, including the development of facilities for discussion-based and problem-solving classes, the expansion of external learning opportunities such as exchange programs and internships, and the overhaul of our scholarship system. Our students and graduates, including international students, are the yardstick by which we measure achievement of “the Best,” and so the giant leap we make in the coming years will be driven by projects for our students.
The progressive attitude embraced by Waseda means not settling for the status quo but going beyond convention to greater heights. That attitude will be the most crucial impetus for achieving the world-class Waseda which we envision.
Each school and research organization has developed innovative responses to the trends of globalization and interdisciplinary study. Our faculty and staff also have produced revolutionary research concepts, groundbreaking educational content and methods, and innovative ideas for institutional management. A willingness and enthusiasm for tackling challenges is crucial to achieving our goal of “Waseda, the Best.” We all must create opportunities and work together to achieve our goals during the second stage.
In 1913, as part of its Mission declared by Shigenobu Okuma, Waseda University committed to “contribute to the advancement of knowledge… and extend its influence and activity to the world at large.” A century later, the current age requires a new declaration to the world. As we tackle the challenges ahead, we must re-commit ourselves to realizing the University’s original mission.
Fortunately, Waseda University is supported by many talented teachers, alumni and students. We are also blessed with a legacy and tradition cultivated since 1882. The second stage will be propelled by tireless effort to expand Waseda’s strengths, to lead the world in innovation, with a resolute drive to contribute to the world.
Following the roadmap of the Vision 150 plan, with faculty, alumni and students working in close cooperation towards Waseda, the Best, I am certain that it will become a university which we can all take even more pride in.